I’ve been thinking a lot, for years now, probably at unhealthy levels, about humankind’s demand to have things, fast, consistent and cheap, is driving much of the discomfort we feel in modernity.
Our minds enjoy consistency as our old lizard brain hates surprises.
It’s only when we get to the more updated monkey brain and neocortex that we find the desire for speed.
Where speed and consistency meet, we find the single word that is killing our global culture, “Convenience.”
If something is convenient, I can guarantee you, it’s not healthy for you, others or the world.
In fact, I defy you to show me one modern convenience that isn’t hurting someone somewhere.
McDonald’s is the king of convenience, so I decided to review the phenomenon of our desire for speed and consistency.
What I found was shocking and disturbing.
Now some of you might not understand why the technological disruptions behind a Happy Meal are disturbing.
For only one moment if you could consider what the value of your time over “MY TIME” or a “STRANGERS TIME” meant, I think you would start to see, that we are heading for times of even greater inequality, economic disparity and social rage.
Don’t believe me? Go to McDonald, and tell me how much you’re Lovin It.
In the beginning, McDonald’s disrupted food, by creating a system of manufacturing food. Their flagship store could create many burgers, fast.
Once Roy Kroc found this gem (Go see “The Founder” Movie”) he created a franchise model so that this system could get more Americans faster.
For almost 15 years, people walked up to McDonald’s and stood at a window. In 1962 with the help of scientist, McDonald’s started allowing people to “Sit” inside.
For many people my age, McDonald’s of the 70’s was about drive through. Our parents, with us in tow could head out to an event and while we were moving, get food, and while we were driving, consume food. The revolution of never enough time had started, but how bad could it get, it’s 1975, it’s just a drive-through.
With restaurants filling the US, McDonald’s went global in the late 70’s and 80’s reaching into Moscow during the Cold War.
The lessons around production, delivery and supply chain would change everything we understood about food and ultimately, create the most significant disruption to McDonald’s yet, customization. Soon, getting a burger “Your Way” wouldn’t require a stop at a some King’s place.
Between the 80’s and 90’s McDonalds pioneered, Happy Meals, Customize Ordering, Breakfast (yeah breakfast was an engineering feat, remember when you had to think about what time of day it was before you ate?)
New foods like salads, Big and Tasty, the rise of the ephemeral McRib, all fed into our pre-internet culture.
Marketing, Media, and Toys drove America to the edge of demand culture, yet we had not seen anything yet.
With ubiquitous internet entirely encroaching most of the USA, McDonald’s needed to get MORE people and product in and out of the stores. With the restaurants packed, the only place to innovate was the drive-through. The era of multi-lane drive through was upon us.
The begining of the end of chronological lines started here.
I’m Lovin’ It!
With the USA finally getting more people through the restaurant with the advent of multi-car lane drive-throughs, McDonald’s in Asia an Europe start adding Kiosk for patrons.
Kiosk ordering allowed there to be NO SINGLE LINE,
Time is a technology that is not physical.
While people uncomfortable with the technology could go to the front of the store, others more tech-savvy customers could just “jump” the line by ordering at the kiosk and having food borough to their table.
The era of having someone grab a sit while you waited in line was over.
By early 2016 McDonald’s had completely obliterated the idea of a line at the restaurant.
Between multiple drive-through lanes, In-store kiosks and their new mobile app, you could literally order food from the dry cleaner down the street and have it waiting for you at the counter.
People inside McDonald’s didn’t know that were hundreds of people “in-front” of them inline at other locations.
Location, itself, had become irrelevant.
As we head into 2018 remember for a moment the glory days of waiting longer for a burger with extra pickles.
Or the excitement of scratching off the Monopoly game piece to win a free French fry.
Today, none of that matters.
Mcdonalds will bring your family food, anywhere you are, including breakfast, at anytime. No line, no cash, just the way you want it and give fitbit clones as toys to children so that mom and dad can monitor, with the all the convenience demanded by todays cybernetic latchkey lifestyles.
Welcome to McDystopia
As your time becomes more precious and you don’t notice the people taking your food order.
You don’t’ think about the data you’re giving away on Facebook and you are looking for that next life hack remember this.
You will die alone and all that time you saved and all those people you watched hurt by the system of “I GOT MINE” in the name of your precious spot in line, were displaced by the gadgets in my life.
Go out today, go for a walk, touch someone you love with so much tenderness.